The Batman (2022) Review


Austin Metzger, Editor in Chief

The Batman (2022) Review:

The Batman is yet another adaptation of the iconic superhero on the silver screen, and it has some shoes to fill. From the original 1989 Tim Burton’s Batman which defined the public reception of the character to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy which has gone down as some of the greatest blockbuster films of all time, now Matt Reeves has to try to stand among them with his take on the caped crusader. It’s quite a monster of a task to be sure and has meant the fans of the character were skeptical of yet another adaption of the character after the previous films had already seemingly perfected the character for the big screen. So it’s much more surprising that Matt Reeves’s The Batman is not only the best Batman film but has elevated the character to be a more human and tragic interpretation that fits so well in the story Matt Reeves and crew have made. I think this film might be one of the best modern neo-noir films.

Robert Pattison plays Batman in the latest film adaptation of the character.

To set the stage we must first look at the titular hero and how he is portrayed. In previous films, Batman was portrayed by the likes of Micheal Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck, and this doesn’t even cover the character’s non-live action portrayals in games and cartoons by voice actors like Kevin Conroy. And now in 2022, Batman is portrayed by actor Robert Pattinson. Pattinson found mainstream success as the character of Edward in the twilight series but has since made his name as an acclaimed actor with roles in films like Good Times and The Lighthouse. Each portrayal of Batman has had its quirks and unique characteristics that have made each one unique for its respective film. But what Pattinson brings to the role here is something we have not seen for this character in live-action outings. Batman is often characterized as the often quiet and stoic hero on his quest to fight for justice in Gotham but one aspect that is often overlooked in the films is the tragic sadness of his character. After his parents were shot and killed right in front of him he had held guilt for somehow inadvertently killing them and had vowed from that day to never let what happened to him happen again in Gotham. This reshapes how we view the character from a simple superhero fighting crime to a tragic crusader on a quest that seemingly will never end, spending his nights near torturing himself, especially in his early years as Batman all the while still unable to get over the guilt that has driven his quest. This tragic aspect of the character while often covered in the films has never been portrayed so extensively as in Pattinson’s performance. This is Batman in only his 2nd year of fighting crime and in every scene we can see the anger and sadness that drives him, often without words. During fight scenes, we can see his anger, and his drive for revenge against the tragedy he had to endure but the moment we often see it most is when the cowl goes off. Back in the Batcave, Batman goes through his computer trying to solve a mystery and it’s during these moments that Pattison really shows his immaculate performance conveyed through face alone, not too dissimilar from the quiet performances by Ryan Gosling in neo-noirs like Drive and Blade Runner 2049. Pattison shows such a sadness that truly turns Batman from pure stoic into tragically quiet, just barely hanging on from falling into insanity. This is also seen when Pattinson is no longer Batman but resumes the rule of his often neglected alter ego Bruce Wayne. While Pattinson’s performance of Batman has been acclaimed by critics and viewers alike, his portrayal as the out of costume Bruce Wayne has received criticism for not being like other interpretations that portrayed Bruce as a cocky philanthropist, hiding his true self. And while I get those criticisms, this Bruce Wayne I think works well in this story due to it being early on in this character’s career and it helps to tie into the overall themes of the story in play. 


The story of this film shifts from previous films by being a more straight neo-noir thriller that evokes more of the mystery-solving aspects of the character. After all, Batman is known as the world’s greatest detective although in other films you would be hard-pressed to know that as there is more action than mystery solving. That’s where Matt Reeves’ Batman story is different, focusing way less on the action and more on the drama and simple tension that comes with a serial killer story. In this tale, the Riddler is murdering politicians and figures of wealth and power in Gotham and has been leaving clues specifically addressed to the Batman itself. The story setup is simple enough, invoking films like Zodiac and Seven. But like those films, the serial killer’s plot is there just to reveal a darker and sinister reality that the characters inhabit. Over the course of the 3-hour runtime, Batman explores the seedy underbelly of a decaying Gotham that questions both Batman and the Riddler’s actions. I won’t spoil the story, but not only does this film provide an actual mystery for Batman to solve but challenges Batman by exploring if Batman is even doing the right thing. 

Batman and Commissioner Gordon (played by Jeffery Wright) investigate the latest crimes committed by the Riddler.

Along the way, Batman will meet a plethora and characters that both help and hinder his investigation. Paul Dano portrays a terrifying Riddler inspired by real-life serial killers like the Zodiac killer and by implementing terrifying real-world concerns of our digital age into his persona. And while he may not be as deep and layered as Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, he still is written as a worthy foe that challenges Batman. Other characters include the helpful and almost buddy cop like commissioner Gordon, portrayed by Jeffery Wright who helps Batman in his investigation, and then there’s the more comedic relief character of the film the eccentric Penguin, portrayed by Colin Farrell. Although the one character that I feel was a bit lacking was Zoë Kravitz’s Catwomen. While her actual performance and character were great; in fact, it’s probably one of the best adaptations of the character; it’s the romantic relationship with Batman that falls flat. While the romance is not necessarily bad, it feels rushed and almost feels put in just to check off the femme fatale trope that’s common in these films. Anyways, besides the main cast, there are some fun side characters that just make the film more fun, but I won’t spoil those here. 


Another great character is the city itself, Gotham. Gotham has been characterized in the Batman mythos as a monolithic gothic city filled with such decay and misery that at times it feels like the characters are more or less stuck in the city rather than living there on their own. Gotham has been portrayed quite well in the films before, specifically calling to Tim Burton’s Gotham, which has seemingly been unmatched when it comes to portraying the city. The city has been portrayed quite well with one notable exception in the ironically critically acclaimed dark knight where Gotham feels more like Chicago than anything remotely gothic. Luckily the Gotham in The Batman is great. It fulfills the gothic aesthetic well, having its own grimy dirty identity. The one thing, in particular, I think Gotham excels at compared to other film adaptations is the world-building. Within the rusted support beams and crumbly streets, there are campaign posters of politicians saying they will clean up Gotham, ironically in the immense and decrepit streets the posters sit. There are decayed billboards advertising a relief plan to fix Gotham that has since all been forgotten. All this adds to the story and truly gives the film a great atmosphere.

Batman driving his batmobile chases after the Penguin, played by Colin Farrell.

The cinematography is also superb. Using filming techniques of films from the 70s, Batman is one of the most striking looking modern films and is beyond anything we’ve seen in comic book films. The camera is seemingly able to get anywhere, creating spectacular shots. The camera also fogs up and gets dirty adding to the atmosphere of the film. Shot in widescreen adds a distorted quality to the film that helps to entrap the viewer into the atmosphere. This also goes for the action. The action is not as numerous as in previous films but is all the more intense. Batman’s beatdowns on criminals show his anger but also show the dirty techniques he uses and shows he is inexperienced. The best action scene of the film has to be the batmobile chase. The batmobile in this film is terrifying with a horrifying yet badass jet engine sound within its stripped-back muscle car exterior. The chase evokes that of horror films like Christine with Batman relentlessly pursuing his prey, with a relentlessness that makes Batman seem terrifying. From Pattsions angered expression, impressive camera work, atmosphere, and intense action, this scene seemingly encapsulates some of the best aspects of this film. 


In conclusion, Matt Reeves’s The Batman gave us a neo-noir that took the caped crusader and made him a human character in a tense mystery that does things no other Batman film has. And on its own, it’s a well-paced neo-noir thriller that paces its action and looks stunning doing so. Batman is not your typical superhero film and I think it brings a new avenue of films like this to be made. 9.5/10